VA New England Healthcare System
A better life for Veterans with Spinal Cord Injury
Veterans at the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Unit at Brockton/VA Boston are challenging what it means to be living with a spinal cord injury. In fact, one look at their list of activities may leave you wondering how these Veterans could be injured at all.
"We are very busy in the SCI unit,” says Joan Lynch, Recreation Specialist. “Our Veterans play bocce, adaptive bowling, cribbage, practice archery and shooting, and go swimming."
"Joan does great work with our Veterans in the long-term care spinal cord injury unit," says Sunil Sabharwal, MD, Network SCI Service Line Director, VISN 1 and SCI Chief, VA Boston Health Care System. "Veterans on that unit report a significantly higher quality of life, on average, compared to others living with SCI in the community and those followed in the private sector. Activities such as these are a big contributing factor for that."
It’s that quality of life that is so important to Veterans who are living with SCI. Dr. Sabharwal says Veterans at the SCI Unit participate in everyday, normal activities and have a say in their daily schedule, activities, and even the physical space. Being part of a community, having social interaction, and having some control over their environment helps them to overcome many of the challenges that a spinal cord injury may cause.
"Veterans have incredible resilience, and we have a supportive environment for them," Dr. Sabharwal adds. "I’m a big advocate for activities. They add so much value without much cost. It’s a perfect example of successful treatment that isn’t just about the latest technology or medical breakthroughs. It’s about improving our Veterans’ lives as a whole."